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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Overseas couple will bring embryos to NZ for surrogate birth

An overseas couple are set to become the first people allowed to bring frozen human embryos into New Zealand for a surrogate birth.

The unnamed prospective parents have gained ethics consent to create embryos offshore using their own sperm and eggs before transporting their frozen embryos to New Zealand to impregnate a relative with their baby. If successful, they plan to take the child back overseas after its birth.

The unique surrogacy application was approved by the Ethics Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology (Ecart) at its March meeting, according to its meeting minutes released this week.

A Ministry of Health spokesman said it was believed to be the first surrogacy case using imported embryos in New Zealand.

Ecart said the intending mother was unable to conceive, which it assumed was a result of medical treatment she had undergone, and so required a surrogate.

"This is a within family-surrogacy arrangement and embryos created from the intending parents' gametes will be brought to New Zealand, where the treatment will take place."

It queried whether the child would be forced to return to New Zealand if its intending parents died and its guardians lived in New Zealand.

However, the couple's counsellor told Ecart the couple's appointed guardians lived in the same country as them, were close friends, and had Kiwi connections.

"The committee was concerned that, in the event of the intending parents' deaths, a New Zealand-born child who is then raised offshore may then be required to return to New Zealand," its meeting minutes said.

Ecart was satisfied both parties had sought independent legal advice regarding adoption issues in New Zealand and offshore.

There was a "cultural aspect" to the application and cultural norms had been discussed regarding how any remaining embryos would be stored or discarded.

In approving the couple's surrogacy application, it noted their counsellor confirmed the intending mother's parents and siblings were alive and well, and that it was a close supportive family.

It was unknown which fertility clinic in New Zealand would assist the couple in having the baby.

People brought frozen embryos to New Zealand several times a year, mainly when they moved countries for jobs or family reasons, according to John Peek, of Fertility Associates.

 It was also common for people to move their frozen embryos around New Zealand.

He said frozen embryos and sperm were safely transported in liquid nitrogen shippers, which were mini-versions of storage banks at clinics.


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